The Diamond diet, popularly known as the Fit for Life Program, is a way of eating designed to be employed as a health lifestyle. Developed by Harvey and Marilyn Diamond, it is a set of dietary principles intended to serve as a blueprint for habits that can easily become routine, allowing individuals to take control of their health.
Harvey Diamond was an ill and underweight child with chronic and painful stomach problems. As a young adult, his health problems continued as he became over-weight. After experiencing the dieting merry-go-round of losing and regaining his weight, Diamond decided that dieting does not work and that he needed to learn how to best care for his body. In 1970, Diamond found his answer in the concept of natural hygiene, an approach to the care and upkeep of the body that focuses on prevention of disease and healthful living. As described by Diamond, the concept of natural hygiene teaches that the body is self-cleansing, self-healing, and self-maintaining. Healing powers are contained within the body itself. He states "the body is always striving for health and .. achieves this by continuously cleansing itself of deleterious waste material." In combination with an overall healthful lifestyle of adequate rest, exercise , sunshine, stress management, and interpersonal relationships, understanding how food impacts this cleansing process allows individuals to eliminate the cause of their health problems.
Almost immediately upon Diamond's introduction to this concept, his lifelong stomach pains ceased. Within one month, he had lost 50 pounds (a loss he was able to maintain). Diamond became a proponent of natural hygiene and, in 1981, began a seminar program known as The Diamond Method. In 1983, he earned a doctorate in nutritional science from the American College of Health Science, a non-accredited college in Austin, Texas. It is the basic fundamentals of natural hygiene that Harvey and Marilyn Diamond synthesized into the dietary and lifestyle principles of the Fit for Life Program.
Although popularly discussed as a weight loss program, Fit for Life is not a diet. True to the tenets of natural hygiene, the approach to eating laid out in the Fit for Life books is designed to provide for optimal body functioning by internal cleansing of illness-producing toxins. Although weight loss and energy enhancements are positive results, the underlying goal is cleansing. Disease, as understood in this approach, is "nothing more than the body's own effort to cleanse itself of toxins." These toxins are the products of metabolic imbalance, or toxemia, resulting from wastes. Dead cells, food residue, and additives build up in the bodies and cannot be eliminated at the same rate they are produced. Understanding and minimizing this level of toxemia is the key to healthy longevity. The dietary guidelines of the Fit for Life program are designed to generate a minimum of toxic food residue within the body and to enable the body to continuously expel the toxic waste that is produced. An additional intent is that the dietary guidelines incorporate good food and enjoyable meals rather than strict, hard-to-follow regimens. If the program is stopped for any reason, according to Diamond, it can be re-started with almost immediate results.
The Fit for Life program places an emphasis not only on what foods are eaten, but also in what combinations and at what time of day those foods are eaten. Three general principles guide Diamond's hygienic approach to eating.
The Principle of High-Water-Content Food
Water is vital to cleansing the inside of the body of accumulated wastes. Consuming sufficient high-water-content foods, fruits, and vegetables is crucial to accomplish this cleansing. Unlike drinking water, the water found in fruits and vegetables provides for the transport of the nutrients found in those foods. It then flushes waste matter from the body.
The Principle of Proper Food Combining
According to this principle, foods should be eaten in combinations that are most compatible with digestive chemistry. Otherwise, the food will remain in the stomach longer than it should and cause digestive problems. Proteins and starches should not be eaten together because the stomach cannot digest both efficiently at the same time. For optimal digestion, proteins should be combined with vegetables at mealtime or a starch combined with vegetables.
The Principle of the Correct Consumption of Fruit
Fruit should be fresh and ripe when eaten. It should be eaten alone on an empty stomach, not with or after anything else. The reason is that fruit requires no digestion in the stomach and should be able to pass through the stomach quickly to help the body in its detoxification efforts. Additionally, because fruit requires so little digestive energy, it should be eaten in the morning to best work with natural body cycles of food utilization and elimination. The body needs to spend its energy on proper cleansing during the morning hours rather than diverting crucial energy to digestive processes. According to Diamond, the most beneficial habit a person can develop is consuming exclusively fresh fruit and fresh fruit juice from awakening until noon.
Research & general acceptance
Proponents, including some nutrition and medical professionals, claim benefits include weight loss, improved energy, and overall better health from following the program. M.D.s, including Edward Taub, an Assistant Clinical Professor at the University of California, Irvine, and Kay S. Lawrence, contributed to the first Fit for Life book. Critics contend that the principles of the program disagree with much established nutritional advice such as that provided by the American Dietetic Association (ADA). The regimen does not, for example, advocate weight loss by counting calories, recommend the basic food groups, or call to attention the health benefits of milk. Although the emphasis on fresh fruits and vegetables is generally seen as positive, it is also called extreme by some reviewers. Reviewers in nutritional publications have raised concerns about inadequate protein intake, the possibility of deficiencies in calcium, zinc , some B vitamins (notably riboflavin and thiamine ), and iron deficiency anemia . Some nutritionists have also argued that rigorously following the Fit for Life dietary guidelines could lead to inadequate nutrition for the proper development of growing children or fetuses. Critical reviews range from Environmental Nutrition's assessment that the Fit for Life regimen is "probably not dangerous, [but] has the potential to be unhealthy and therefore is not recommended" to the position of J. Lynne Brown, Ph.D., R.D. that if "followed rigorously, it could lead to serious health problems." Diamond rebuffs his critics, ADA guidelines and nutritional advice in particular, calling for a broader understanding of science, a quest for truth and less emphasis on credentials which are, he argues, the way organizations such as the ADA maintain power over dissenting opinions.
Diamond, Harvey and Marilyn. Fit for Life. New York, Warner Books. 1985.
Diamond, Harvey and Marilyn. Fit for Life II: Living Health. New York, Warner Books. 1987.
Brown, J. Lynne. "Fit for Life." Journal of Nutrition Education (1986): 18, 6.
Kenny, James J. "Fit for Life." Nutrition (1986): 3, 8.
Healthcare Reality Check. http://www.hcrc.org.
Quackwatch: Your guide to Health Fraud, Quackery, and Intelligent Decisions. http://www.quackwatch.com/index.html.